Nothing can quite prepare you for motherhood. There are too many variables. Even the most up to date parenthood class or seasoned mom’s advice will not completely cover what you will experience for 18 years and beyond. Then, add in multiple kids and you are in for a whirlwind. One thing I never thought I would have to experience with my newborn was a natural disaster. On September 13th, Hurricane Florence came and wrecked North Carolina. More specifically, my hometown, Havelock.
I have lived in NC my entire life. I was born and raised here. I have been through several hurricanes, Bertha, Matthew, Andrew, Floyd, Irene are just a few I have experienced. Now, NC may not know how to handle a snow storm but most people here have been through a hurricane or two and we know how to bunker down and wait for the storm to pass. This time was different. I had two children, 2 and under, totally dependent on me. I watched news updates like a hawk. A category FOUR hurricane was heading our way. We were going to take a direct hit of a huge, slow moving storm bringing buckets of rain and winds of 130+ mph. I shed many tears anticipating the arrival of this massive storm. My husband and I had long discussions of what would be the best for our family? Would we stay and take the risk of us being in our home and a tree fall on the house? Would we leave our home and potentially not be able to get back for days or weeks because of flooding? Additionally, evacuating costs money-all of our family is here. We don’t have a lot of options besides costly places to lodge. It wasn’t just about my husband’s and my safety. We had two children and one furry one that we were 100% responsible for. Talk about a mama’s heart being heavy and torn.
After much debate, heated conversations, prayers, tears and even a phone call to my mom whose advice was to “follow my heart” *more tears*…We decided to stay but we were going to relocate about a mile down the road to my parents’ home. I was confident we made the right decision. Florence started to decrease in strength and would hit the Carolinas at a Category 2. (Ultimately recorded as a Category 1) Now this doesn’t mean that this storm was to be taken lightly. This hurricane left millions without power, shelter, water and food for days. Many people are still without essential items & trying to recover. This hurricane will be talked about forever and we hope its damage is something that we only have to deal with once in this lifetime.
After we made the decision to stay, I took a video of my home. Opened every drawer and cabinet. One, to remember our belongings for insurance and two, it would be a nice memory to look back on if we were not fortunate to come back to our home. I started putting things in bins and placing them high up. It’s really an unexplainable feeling deciding what you value most in your home. For me, it was photos, scrapbooks, and important documents like my son’s 7 week old birth certificate. Things that truly couldn’t be replaced. I am still shocked that I didn’t have more bins filled up before we left for my parents’ house. I was trying to gather things I thought were important, but really, I had everything I needed loaded up in my car. Four days worth of food, clothes and my babies.
The storm slowly crept up on us about 8 pm. I look back and think how convenient. We usually put the kids down at 8. We tried everything for more than two hours while eerie noises surrounded us, the kids were in a different setting, power was out…things were starting to get sticky and hot. Those postpartum and breastfeeding hormones are no joke! Tornado warnings hit our phones. If you want to know the definition of stress you could have just looked at me, trying to put two babies who had no clue what was going on, to sleep all while my heart is pounding out of my chest. Thankful I had remembered AA batteries for the white noise machine. I turned it on as high as it would go. That finally did the trick. Now I have a toddler who doesn’t usually sleep with us kicking me in the face, and a brand spanking new baby sleeping right next to me that was waking up to nurse every two hours. I really don’t know how I made it through the night or even the following days without power. The next four days were not pleasant. We were sticky and hot, needed showers. I can clearly remember smelling like spit up, sour milk and sweat. Let’s be honest, every postpartum mother’s highlight of her day is a shower.
Trying to keep a two year old entertained with no lights, AC or technology was very challenging especially with a new brother. We were all still trying to find our new normal. Looking back, we were so fortunate!! We woke up each day to a roof over our heads, food to eat, my family. Lots of people were not as lucky. Homes flooded, roofs ripped apart, people had to be rescued from their roofs, trees falling every which way on to homes. Today, most people in Eastern NC are still trying to recover from Florence in one way or another. I sit here, a year later and it feels like déjà vu, only this time I have a one and three year old. Eight/nine days shy of being a year apart and we sit and wait for hurricane Dorian. A Category 5 hurricane that has kept us on our toes for over a week. When will it get here? Just how bad will this hurricane be? Do we stay or evacuate? Do we have enough supplies? The list goes on and on...
Mamas, if you are feeling torn on what to do or how to do it during this (hurricane) season, just remember each “storm” is completely different. Trust your motherly instincts, follow your heart and don’t look back.
<3 Lauren C.